Action or Transaction? {The Friendships of Women}

What is life like in the other woman's boots?  Be interested...but not enmeshed.  Be open-handed, not tight fisted.  And above all...never...ever...try to write your name on the bottom of those boots of hers...

...your friend's boots.

She belongs to the Lord, first and foremost.  She also belongs to a handful of other people in her life called "husband", "daughter", "son", or "grandchild" or "mother".   She does not belong to you.

After all, isn't that what makes her so beautiful?  The fact that she works so hard to build authentic relationships with her beloveds, so that what she has to offer you, when she enfolds you into that circle, is something so genuine you feel inspired to go love on your beloveds - isn't that what makes her so special?

When you stop using her to feel better about yourself, you will finally be in a position to be a true friend to your girlfriend.  After all, relationship is about holding up a vision of the greatness of the other girl.

It is unconditional love - it is action, not transaction.

Hey.  You already know this, deep down.

Be genuinely interested in the success of someone else.  See life through her lens, walk a mile in her boots...because she is that incredible to you.  And remember:  interested women are irresistibly interesting.

Go love your friend into being her best self.  Ironically, you become your best self when you do.

This Message of Grace { is finally covering the whole earth...}

Here is a must read for you today.

I burn with holy satisfaction as I read.

Because there was a time when my preacher and I suffered for saying the same things. It was seen as a strange, off-center, "unbalanced" word.  The term "cult" was even whispered behind our backs, by those who'd declared themselves to be our fast friends, mere weeks earlier.

Not many others were preaching these things consistently or with any substantive passion.

Yet my Preacher was preaching this stuff...this grace stuff...the end of the law for all who a crazy man.


...heh, heh.

Ain't nothin' balanced about that.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Recipe {Cooking For Two}

I have been cooking from this cookbook for some time now, and I cannot recommend it enough. Tonight, The Preacher and I enjoyed the most amazing chicken stew...

...hang with me, I promise it is incredible, and so worth it.

Put some brown rice on to boil. (The cookbook calls for the microwaveable steam bags of white rice, but this is only to keep it truly "One Pan, Two Plates". I don't mind the extra pan, because I love brown rice...)

Slice one leek, one rib of celery, and one carrot. Throw these in a hot-hot cast iron skillet, with olive oil. Toss in some thyme.

After sautéing the vegetables for a few minutes, place 4-6 chicken thighs in the pan and brown them.

Add the juice of two oranges, two cloves of garlic (chopped), and a can of organic diced tomatoes (we love Muir Glen brand), and some chopped parsley. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, zest one small orange (don't skip this, if you value your quality of life. I am only being a little dramatic...), and slice up some olives (1/3 cup). You will add them at the very end. Also, warm two shallow bowls in your oven.

Lay a fragrant bed of nutty, yummy brown rice...

...ladle on the stew...pour a glass of whatever you both love...


The Preacher gave this three thumbs up...'s a birth defect. Just kidding.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Snow In the South


I admit it...

It's true.

Everything you've heard.

I am living a dream I have not earned.

And do not deserve.

Yes... sort of rocks to be me.

And it is all...

...every moment...

...every little bit of it...

...extravagant grace.

{Hope you enjoyed our little snow angel...}

Stealing Like An Artist {Or Like Robin Hood}

In April of last year, I downloaded and read the book Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon.  

It liberated me to be who I have always been...all along...

...a Thief.

As I prepare to speak next weekend to the beautiful women of Franklin Covenant Church in the artsy town of Franklin, NC - also at Trinity Community Church, later in the spring - and maybe even Scotland (me...the one who hates traveling)...

As I think of my art that has been flung as far as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, California, and Acworth Alabama...

It humbles and delights me to confess how very much of who I am has been purposely, thoughtfully, even meticulously stolen from others.  All.  My.  Life.  

Please note I did not say "copied" or "plagiarized".  Let me explain.

Nah, get the book.  Then you will understand.  Or read this post for clarification of what I mean.  The post is proof that I read the book last early-April, and my mention of it is not a mere or slavish copying on my part of beautiful blondes who have read it and are more recently talking about it.  

{I am taking Jeanne's lovely course, Studying Under the Masters:  Becoming An Apprentice}

I have always been a voracious reader.  I sit in front of books the way some women sit in front of social media:  all the dang time.

I hear the Lord so clearly in the bathtub.  As I was soaking this night, both in water and in Word, God was speaking to me about what I will be speaking to the women of Franklin NC.  The context that will be framing my teaching has been ripped right out of Eugene Peterson's book entitled Eat This Book.  (Note:  I said the book is the context that will frame what is actually my own personal story and revelation into the ways and wisdom of God.  I will not be quoting words from the book and pretending they are my own words.)

And the Father affectionately said to me, "You are my Robin Hood.  I love that about you."

Yeah.  That's me.  Robin Hood.  I have only a very few thoughts that I would consider to be entirely originally my own - and maybe not even those few.  The rest have been stolen from those who I consider to have way more wisdom and talent than me - and I turn right around and immediately give away what I stole to those who need it desperately.  I do it in my art and in my ministry.  Or, wait.  They are one in the same.   In my art ministry, in this weird thing I do, I rob from the rich and give to the poor in spirit.

And I like to think of my Harvest Women as my Merry ("Mighty") Band.  They sneak me chocolate and red wine when I need it, they watch out for enemies, and if someone tries to hurt me they fall upon them without mercy.  Me n' my gang.  They believe in me and this thievery I do, to their core.  Were I to land in a dungeon, a wild hairy plot to rescue me would be forthwith in the making.  

And they know I'd hurt people for them, too, because I already steal for them.

So be set free in your own practice, whatever it is, to steal.  Not plagiarize, not copy what someone else is doing...but steal it and then repurpose it and keep it just long enough to make it your own.  Eminent Domain and all that sort of thing.

The funny thing is?  What is then given away is uniquely yours.  

I thought I was "Stealing Like An Artist", and come to find out, all this time, this stealing thing has been who I am for a long, long time...I was probably stealing magnificent ideas when Austin Kleon was in grade school.

Robin Hood had a sweet gig, and ended up making quite a name for himself.

Stand on the shoulders of giants with me, won't you?

13-21 Year Old Girls {This Post Is For You}

{Girls and moms, please feel free to click on, and save the above image, pin it to Pinterest, and share it across your social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Vine.}

I am 47 years old. I am a pastor's wife. I have pudge around my middle-aged middle.

Three strikes against me, you'd think, when it comes to all these super cool, super cute highschool and college girls....three strikes, so you'd think I'd be out. But I'm in!

For whatever reason, y'all like me.

That may be because I adore you.

I do. I haven't met a young girl but what I didn't feel the urge to coach or mother her into her identity in Christ. I told my last girl I mentored, straight up, "I love you, and I am here to grab you by your arm, and DRAG you as FAST AS YOU CAN RUN to meet up with your destiny, because you are behind the time of your development!"

And that's what we did.

I have a new burden about others of you. I want those of you with more than one social media identity (on Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, or even Facebook) I want you to delete every other identity/account you have, and keep only the one you wouldn't mind your daddy or momma to see.

Will the "real you" please stand up?

Can you stand up courageously, by declaring to your entire social media platform that there is #onlyoneme. Ask all your friends: Will the real you please #standup ?

If you are REALLY brave, let everyone who follows you know that you have #deletedmyotherselves

If you have only one social media identity, across all platforms, and your parents are welcome to see most of what is there...please speak up, and challenge your peers to the same policy.

Why? Because these multiple technology personalities are hurting your friends. Like...really damaging them, psychologically and emotionally. When I was your age,I lied about who I was calling on that phone that was tethered to the wall in the family kitchen. A very low tech,low investment lie.

Today, you guys can lie elaborately, and with a single deleting swipe of a finger,an entire ungodly persona can be an instant.

Join me, if you will, in starting a movement. A bold move towards a genuine honest undisguised YOU. Delete those other "selves" if you are one of the many who has them:

{again, please feel free to share the above, square #onlyoneme collage banner. Share the hashtag and banner across all your social media platforms.}

Join me, girls, and let's create a movement of young women who are willing to be genuinely and conspicuously THEMSELVES.

Please share this post with your highschool and college age girlfriends - leave me a comment below if you are ready to join me in starting a movement.


Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...